DALLAS -- Andrew Bynum's return date, which had a nebulous time frame to begin with, keeps getting pushed back. The latest update, provided Tuesday by Coach Phil Jackson, was that the Lakers were "still hopeful" their 7-foot center would be ready for the first round of the playoffs.
Bynum has been running on an anti-gravity treadmill that effectively lowers his body weight, but it will still be awhile before he starts shooting and taking part in basketball drills, Jackson said.
"I anticipate that that's still a couple weeks away, maybe three weeks away before he's actually on the court doing some things," Jackson said. "We're still hopeful that he's going to be in the first round of the playoffs."
The playoffs begin April 19 or April 20.
The Lakers have declined to revise the original timetable that Bynum would be out "at least eight weeks." March 10 was the eight-week mark from the day the timetable was released.
Bynum suffered a deep bone bruise in his left knee and a briefly dislocated kneecap after landing on Lamar Odom's foot in a mid-January game against Memphis.
"His injury's all about the amount of swelling that's going to happen because of the exercise, because of the pounding that he's going to take on the court, and how long it's going to take for that to subside," Jackson said. "Will he be able to get the swelling out of there in 24 hours and be able to play [the next day]? That's what we'll have to wait for."
On a related note, Jackson paused several seconds when asked if this was the most injury-ravaged lineup he had ever coached. Then he provided a one-word answer: "No."
The Lakers continued to trudge forward without four injured players, but their coach was quick to shrug it off, despite the initial pause.
"There's nothing you can do about it," Jackson said when pressed further. "If you're getting sympathy votes, maybe, but no one's going to give you a victory because you get a sympathy vote."
Pau Gasol could return from a sprained left ankle next week, and Chris Mihm was expected to begin practicing next week for the first time since undergoing surgery last month to have a screw removed from his right heel.
Trevor Ariza won't recover from a broken bone in his right foot in time for the start of playoffs, said Jackson, who is in his 17th season as an NBA coach.
Jackson didn't seem too enthralled that Kobe Bryant and four other Lakers spent about 90 minutes shooting at a practice court in Dallas a few hours after losing Sunday in Houston. "They must be crazy, is what I thought," Jackson said. "They're tired, they've been playing. Not the right time to go shoot, but the right attitude, no doubt about it." . . . Jackson, who has publicly voiced his support for Sen. Barack Obama, spent a few minutes online reading the Democratic presidential candidate's speech on race relations Tuesday. "I thought it was exceptional," Jackson said.